Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry Introduces Bill to Make English Learners Eligible for Child Care Assistance
(From Press Release) – Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D – Winters) introduced AB 273 last week in order to help Californians pursuing English-language education or a High School Equivalency certificate receive state assistance for childcare services.
Both English language learning and high school education are keys to job training, as well as educational and employment opportunities in California. They are essential in transitioning from public assistance programs to work sufficient to support a family. This hurdle is further exacerbated by the fact that English language and adult learners with children must deal with the increasingly high costs of childcare services.
“If you can’t learn English, you can’t finish your GED, enter job training, or pursue higher education. If you can’t afford child care, you can’t get to your classes. This bill will help people who want to work take the first steps to get the training they need.”
Currently, English language and adult learners with children do not qualify for federal and state subsidized child development services under the Educational Code, such as childcare and preschool.
Childcare services are a growing burden on the budgets of families in California. According to a 2015 report by the California Budget & Policy Center, the average single mother could expect to spend over two-thirds of her income to cover the cost of childcare. It is well documented that a mother’s level of education has important consequences for children. In addition, over 25 percent of California immigrants live in households where no one over the age of thirteen speaks English well.
“Helping people who want to work just makes sense for them and for California,” said Aguiar-Curry. “With the recent debate in our country over immigrants’ rights and the struggle people are having finding employment, I wanted my first bill to be one that would empower Californians to get the education needed to find a job.”
The bill is coauthored by Assemblymembers Caballero (D – Salinas) and Gloria (D – San Diego), and Senator Mendoza (D – Artesia), and currently awaits referral to its first policy committee.
Cecilia Aguiar-Curry represents California’s 4th Assembly District, which includes all of Colusa, Lake, Napa and Yolo Counties, Dixon in Solano County and Rohnert Park in Sonoma County. www.asm.ca.gov/aguiar-curry
AB 273 – Subsidized Child Care Eligibility Criteria – Face Sheet
In order to be eligible for state subsidized child care, families are required to meet eligibility requirements for income and need.
AB 273 clarifies English as a Second Language (ESL) classes as an acceptable type of training course for families to qualify for child care eligibility under Title V funded programs.
California’s Educational Code states that families who meet certain requirements are eligible for federal and state subsidized child development services, such as child care and preschool. The requirements to qualify are based on criteria including income and need of the family
Under existing law, parents that meet income criteria and are engaged in vocational training courses leading directly to a trade or profession are eligible for state supported child care services. However, courses in English as a Second Language (ESL) and/or High School Equivalency Certificate (HSE) do not qualify as a type of vocational training.
Parents that are taking classes to improve their English language proficiency or working to earn their HSE certificate are taking foundational steps needed to enter vocational training, but currently do not qualify for subsidized child care for their children
Many families require state supported child care services in order to continue with their education and work towards a profession. Costly child care services may prove burdensome for lower income families, disproportionately impacting single mothers and women of color.
According to the California Budget & Policy Center, in 2015, the average single-mother could expect to spend over two-thirds of her income to cover the cost of child care.
EdSource, a policy and research nonprofit, reports that a lack of access to quality early learning experiences not only widens the achievement gap for children of color, but also contributes to the school-to-prison pipeline.
Additionally, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) reports that 29% of immigrants in California live in households where no one older than age 13 speaks English “very well.” Among immigrants with less than high school diplomas, 67% speak English “not at all” or “not well.”
It is well documented that individuals who are proficient in English have higher occupational mobility, with better job prospects and the opportunity to earn higher wages. Parents are also better prepared to support their children as they enter the K-12 system.
Allowing greater access to state child care services for those enrolled in ESL and GED courses promises increased socioeconomic mobility for both parents and their children.
AB 273 would add ESL and HSE educational programs to the list of eligibility criteria for state subsidized child development services under the California Educational Code.
This bill does not propose to add any additional slots into the child care system. It simply expands the criteria by which a family can qualify to apply.
This change will empower parents to increase their educational level by providing families with greater access to subsidized child care services. It is often challenging for families who are non-native English speakers to access medical services, educational support within school systems, and social services, despite laws that require interpretation. Investing in families as a whole helps reduce poverty and the associated effects on childhood development.
AB 273 would give low-income families greater access to subsidized childcare services by adding enrollment in English as a Second Language (ESL) and High School Equivalency (HSE) Certification Preparation courses to the existing eligibility requirements.